July 1993 Issue 08
The class of '93
The Royal College of Art Convocation ceremony was held in the Albert Hall on 9 July 1993. Ten students from the Conservation Course were among those receiving their degrees from the Provost, Lord Gowrie, a five-fold increase from the first graduating class of two in 1992. The event marked not only great personal achievement for the students but a significant advance for the Course as the graduants included the first to take research degrees and the first to complete the practical MA Course in two years.
However, the day really belonged to the students and the acclaim which greeted each award was fully deserved - though perhaps the fact that the conservation students were the last of a very long line of recipients added a touch of relief to the applause! The final term has been very gruelling, with the completion of the research project, the final seminar presentation and Final Examinations piling on the work and the stress, only to be followed by preparation and installation of the Final Degree Show. It is generally true to say that both high standards and good humour were maintained throughout.
The ceremony itself managed to be a mix of pomp and informality. The former was amply provided by the setting, the gowns, the organ music and, above all, the trumpet fanfares which accompanied the opening and closing processions. The formality was tempered, though, by the Public Orator's introductions to the Honorary Doctors and Fellows. The Public Orator is none other than the Course's own Director, Professor Christopher Frayling, who is also Head of the Humanities Faculty and Pro-Rector of the College. His speeches were generous and, despite some truly and traditionally awful punning, well-received. Our students were in good company as Honorary Doctorates were given to Jack Lang, Roy Lichtenstein and Issey Miyake. Alberto Alessi, Patrick Caulfield, Edmund Happold, Derek Jarman and Leslie Waddington were made Senior Fellows. While responding enthusiastically to all these awards, it has to be said that the audience, especially the students, gave Derek Jarman a particularly warm and loud ovation.
Graduating students from the RCA/V&A Joint Course in Conservation, 1993 (click image for larger version)
Some have expressed doubts as to whether archaic ceremonies such as this have any relevance in today's society. There is an element of the ridiculous in the costume and format, but it was also impressive and enjoyable. Most of all, it provided an opportunity to bring the students' time at the College to a close, to celebrate their achievements and to recognise the contribution of those who have supported them.
Graduating students from the RCAN&A Joint Course in Conservation: back, I to r; Derek Balfour (MA), Mark Sandiford (MA with Distinction), Stephen Sheasby (MA), Drew Anderson (MA), Albert Neher (MA);
front, I to r; Janet Gilburt (MPhil), Jacqueline Rees (MPhil), Megan Gent (MA), Sarah Boulter (MA), Phillippa Mapes (MA with Distinction)